BOOK REVIEW: WHEN DARKNESS FALLS
Jack Swyteck, James Grippando's criminal defense lawyer hero made famous in series of novels he's written about him, is back in When Darkness Falls. It has all of the elements to be another winner in the series, and is a highly enjoyable book full of more tension and electricity than a live wire. Little does Jack know that when he takes on the defense of a homeless man known as the Falcon, it will lead him to becoming a hostage negotiator with the life of his best friend, Theo Knight, at stake, as well as the lives of three other people. Discovering the motivations of the Falcon takes Jack into the worlds of the Bahamian off shore banking business and the nightmarish times of the Dirty War that took place in Argentina, where people who were branded as dissidents and terrorists, many of whom were actually innocent of any wrong doing, "disappeared" sent to government sanctioned POW camps were they were tortured to death.
At the beginning of the book, the Falcon--called that because he lives in an old Ford Falcon by the Miami River--has climbed up a lamppost on the William Powell Bridge and threatens to jump unless he can talk to the mayor's daughter. The best efforts of the police negotiator on the scene, Sergeant Vincent Paulo, don't seem to be working, though he has had past encounters with the Falcon. Paulo is just getting back into the active negotiating with criminals after he was blinded when he got a little too close to someone he was negotiating with, and ended up paying the price for relying too much on his instincts. He promises the Falcon he can talk with Alicia Mendoza, the mayor's daughter, knowing full well it's a "Bad move." He has little choice in the matter, however, because Mayor Mendoza doesn't want Alicia--herself a cop, and a former girlfriend of Paulo's--to talk to the Falcon.
The Falcon agrees to come down, eventually, but he thinks Paulo has lied to him, and doesn't rust him anymore. Jack takes the case, because the Falcon says he doesn't want to be represented by a PD ) Public Defender, and takes a swing at "the first PD assigned to the case." Swyteck thinks it'll be a freebie, since it seems the Falcon is destitute, but Jack isn't in it just for the money, and does "two or three freebies a year for people who couldn't pay." The judge sets the bond at $10,000 dollars. When the Falcon meets with Jack, who thinks there's no way the Falcon can come up with money like that, the Falcon tells him: "Not a problem. I got the ten grand."
A short plane flight to Nassau proves to Jack that he is right, and that there's more to this man the Falcon than meets the eye. It's after the bail is made and the Falcon is on the loose again that the action really heats up. The Falcon hides in the backseat of Jack's car, and holds a gun to the back of his head, curtailing Swyteck's and Theo's plans to rendezvous with a couple of ladies. The car crashes into a motel, and the Falcon shoots two cops, killing one, and takes Theo, a TV weatherman, and the two hookers he was with hostage.
When Darkness Falls is the type of book you won't want to put down once you start it. It'll keep your attention to the very last page. You don't have to have read the other books in the series to understand and enjoy this one, but you'll want to read all of the Swyteck books once you've read one of them. They're like the Lays Potato chips of thrillers--you can't read just one. James Grippando is a writer of the first caliber, and if you haven't yet read anything by him, I strongly urge anyone who is addicted to the thriller/mystery genre to run out, buy his books, and add the Swyteck novels to your addiction. You'll be glad you did.
REVIEWED BY DOUGLAS R. COBB
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